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Devils add size to blueline at 2009 Draft

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Gelinas has big-time size to go with his scoring touch from the blueline.
MONTREAL – The Devils came out Saturday morning at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and added some serious size on the blueline.

Having taken added center Jacob Josefson in Friday's first round, New Jersey grabbed Eric Gelinas (6-4, 185 lbs.) with the 54th pick; Alexander Urbom (6-3, 196 lbs.) with the 73rd; and Seth Helgeson (6-5, 220 lbs.) with the 114th.

Left wings Derek Rodwell (5th, 144th overall) and Ashton Bernard (6th, 174th overall); and defenseman Curtis Gedig (7th, 204th overall) rounded out New Jersey's selections.

Gelinas was Lewiston's (QMJHL) top defensive scorer last year with 10 goals and 29 assists. A skilled player who said he watches a lot of Montreal's Andrei Markov, Gelinas has size and scoring touch.

"He is one of the most consistent players I have ever coached. He's a smart kid who is always ready to learn," said Lewiston head coach Don MacAdam.

Some promising signs: Gelinas grew two inches from the start of the season, and height runs in the family. His 6-8 father once played in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, and Eric's 6-4 older brother Karl is a pitcher in the Los Angeles Angels farm system. 

Gelinas' said his biggest assets are his skating, shooting and vision. He'd like to work on his toughness and looks up to Chris Pronger: "He's probably meaner than I am," Gelinas said. "I'm more of a skilled player."

He's never been to New Jersey, but respects the Devils' winning reputation. 

"I know that they're in the playoffs every year, and they're pretty solid," Gelinas said. "It's a pretty good organization and a good thing for me."

Urbom played 28 games with Djurgarden (Swe.) where he was Josefson's teammate last season, and was ranked 21st out of all European skaters. In two seasons with Djurgarden's junior team, the Stockholm native had eight goals and 14 assists in 55 games.

Helgeson hails from Zach Parise's hometown of Faribault, Minn., but plays a completely different game from the Devils' leading scorer. Helgeson said Saturday he's a defensive defenseman that keeps it simple, comparing himself to Matt Greene of the Kings.

He's seen former Gopher and current Devil Paul Martin working out at the Minnesota campus, and knows just how much work goes into becoming an effective NHLer.

Said Todd Knott, who coached Helgeson last season at Sioux City (USHL): “Seth’s biggest asset is his 6’4”, 220 pound frame; he moves well for a big guy and has a good skill set to go along with that. At the next level, Seth will have to learn how to play with an edge more consistently as he is just figuring out how to use his body to his advantage. He is a raw project, who has a huge upside because of his athleticism. He is a great teammate along with being a great citizen and role model in the community."

Helgeson had four goals and 12 assists in 58 games last season with the Musketeers.

Rodwell, who's listed at 6-1, 190 lbs., has committed to North Dakota for next season. The native of Taber, Alberta, notched 17 goals (7 PPG) and 12 assists in 41 games with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

“Derek is a quiet, sincere, dedicated team player, who has matured into one of the best power forwards in Canadian Junior ‘A’ hockey," said Okotoks GM/Head Coach Dan MacDonald. "His continued development will most assuredly see him playing at the highest level of hockey."

Bernard is bruising 6-4, 194-lb. left wing who racked up 111 penalty minutes in 53 games last year with Shawinigan (QMJHL). He set a career high 209 penalty minutes the previous season, when he played 26 games with Rouyn-Noranda before being dealt to Shawinigan.

Shawinigan traded the Eskasoni, Nova Scotia native to Cape Breton on June 5.

Gedig, New Jersey's final pick in the Draft, is a 6-3, 190-lb. blueliner from the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League. The Kelowna, British Columbia native posted four goals and 14 assists over 46 games split last season between Cowichan Valley and the Merritt Centennials.

Devils center Travis Zajac (Salmon Arm) was also a BCHL product.

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